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Western New York, January 2002

Business Expansions

New this Month

State and Federal funding announced in December gave the University at Buffalo (Erie County) $53.5 million to invest in high-powered computer processors, scientific equipment and laboratory space for human genome and protein research. Preliminary plans call for the $200 million Buffalo Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics to be constructed near downtown Buffalo. Roswell Park Cancer Institute also plans a new 150,000-square-foot research building in the same area. UB officials believe the Buffalo Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics could create thousands of jobs in the next five years through increased research grant funding and spin-off commercialization of new pharmaceutical and medical products. The center would meld research in biology and information technology, with a focus on developing new drugs, and would take advantage of ongoing work at UB, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

ClientLogic, operator of two call centers in Buffalo (Erie County), is hiring 110 workers to handle a growing volume of customer service calls. The Buffalo centers support tech companies including Microsoft, Sony, and TiVo. The hiring will bring the Buffalo call centers employment up to about 710 workers.

Casinos (Erie & Niagara Counties) The leaders of the Seneca Nation of Indians approved the long-delayed gambling compact on January 12, and will hold a referendum by the end of next month on whether to open casinos in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. The last requirement before Seneca-owned casinos can open in Western New York is approval from the U.S. Department of Interior. A lawsuit was filed alleging the state does not have the authority to let the Seneca Nation of Indians bring Las Vegas-style casinos to the area. The suit, which seeks to overturn the sweeping state gambling legislation enacted in October 2001, will also try to get a judge to issue an injunction to block any future construction by the Seneca’s until the legal issues are resolved.

Adelphia Communications Corp. says it is ready to take the next critical step toward construction of a $125 million operations center in downtown Buffalo (Erie County). The company is hiring an architect to design the 15-story office tower. Adelphia has made even greater strides in its effort to hire the 1,000 staffers it promised the state it would add to the Buffalo economy. More than three-quarters of those employees are already working in scattered sites around Buffalo. Another 400 people are expected to be hired by March 2003, surpassing its original goal.

Business Contractions

New this Month

Quality Farm and County Stores, which operates 9 stores in Western New York, is going out of business. The company merged with Central Farm & Country of Iowa in 1999. Stores closing include locations in Lockport (Niagara County), Batavia (Genesee County), Wellsville (Allegany County,) Springville (Erie County), Dunkirk and Jamestown (Chautauqua County), Olean and Salamanca (Cattaraugus County), and Arcade (Wyoming County). Each store that is closing averages about 25 employees per store.

An infusion of $10 million in increased state aid will stave off the proposed fare increase on Metro buses and trains that run under the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority. A 25-cent increase planned for April 1 is now tabled after the new budget submitted by Gov. George Pataki earmarked the additional funds. The new money would not affect the elimination of 50 full-time and 22 part-time jobs.

UPDATE: Buffalo Public Schools (Erie County) are on the verge of closing a $28 million budget gap with a total of 318 layoffs, far less than initially anticipated. The gap developed when the district overestimated the amount of money it would receive in state aid. An additional 80 teachers were laid off late in January, putting the district’s budget in balance. Virtually all of the 212 teachers laid off by the Buffalo school system will be able to have a teaching job in the city next fall if they want one. It is anticipated that another 50 teaching positions will be eliminated in September due to continuing budget problems, but with 250 or more current teachers retiring when classes end in June, the system would actually have more than 200 classroom jobs to fill.

Labor Disputes

New this Month

UPDATE: Three major universities have dropped their contracts with New Era Cap Co. (Erie County). Duke, Georgetown, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison took action when its findings accused New Era of anti-union bias and unsafe working conditions. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board ruled in September, that New Era violated labor law during a 1998 union election at its Buffalo Plant.

Republic Technologies (Erie County) hourly workers have approved a modified labor agreement, which union and company officials describe as a vital piece of the bankrupt steel maker’s survival strategy. Republic employs about 300 people at its mill in Lackawanna.

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